DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

September 2009

Sep 30 2009

Fractured Fairy Tales

by Nancy M

Fairy tales have been popular in cultures around the world for longer than we know. These stories are a source of enchantment for young children and remain embedded in our own childhood memories. And while I can always pore over great re-tellings of The Three Little Pigs or Sleeping Beauty, sometimes it’s fun to change it up a bit. Fractured fairy tales are re-tellings of these familiar stories but with character, plot, setting and point of view twists. This makes for some of the wittiest, most humorous books out there today for children.
Here are some of my favorites:

images Waking Beauty by Leah Wilcox

truestory The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

threelittleThe Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas

Fractured fairy tales are not only fun, but educational as well. Many teachers are now incorporating these stories into their curriculum to teach children compare and contrast skills, point of view, creative writing and more.

Looking for something a little more in depth? No worries, there are fractured fairy tales for tweens and teens in novel form.

beastly Beastly by Alex Flinn

ella Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

bella Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley

Ask your librarian for more recommended titles.


Sep 28 2009

Pitiful Lawn

by Ev S

My lawn is pitiful.  It’s got brown spots, bare spots, pretty purple weeds, and holes.  I’m not very picky about lawns.  I figure that some shade of green is good, even if it’s rye grass.  I’m also a lazy gardener.  There are several websites to go to, including Georgia’s own Walter Reeves.  Books are also in great plenitude.  I’ve not read them, yet.  We even have DVDs such as Lawns in the Landscape.  I hope between the website, the books below, and the DVD I’ll figure out how to make my lawn pretty instead of pitiful.

The Organic Lawn Care Manual by Paul Tukey

The Lawn Bible by David Mellor

Easy Lawns edited by Stevie Daniels (I think this is the book for me)


Sep 25 2009

Blue. No, Yellow!

by Lesley B

bookcase-sorted-by-color Melvil Dewey, author of the Dewey Decimal Classification System, tried to popularize several other unusual organizational schemes (he was an advocate of simplified spelling and spelled his last name ‘Dui’ for a time),  but I don’t think he would have approved of shelving books by color. Of course, Mr. Dewey is not the boss of you (unless you are a librarian) and many people apparently prefer their shelves to look like rainbows. I’ve never tried this myself, but it’s better than the people who secretly hate books (usually decorators) and wrap them all in white. They look like the ghosts of books. Every time I see this, I think “Why do you even own a book? Why not skip the books and go straight to the wallpaper?”

Decatur’s own Blue Elephant Book Shop always has a soothing display of blue books in their front window, which to me shows an admirable and daring disregard for bestsellers.  My current shelving scheme at home is ‘books that are too precious to me to go in the attic’ and ‘books that I put in the attic but miss and fret about’.  How do you shelve your books?

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Sep 23 2009

Autumn, The Mosaic of All Seasons

by Jnai W

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting
and autumn a mosaic of them all.”
Stanley Horowitz

Yesterday was the first official day of Autumn and I couldn’t be happier.  Even though we Georgians probably have at least a month to go before the advent of cooler, crisper weather or the rich, stunning appearance of fall foliage, I’m anxiously anticipating the coming months.

Autumn has always been my favorite season. September meant going back to school and getting back into the hustle-and-bustle of school life (this zeal for academics usually wore off in about a month). October has always been great because of chillier weather and Halloween candy. And November is the best time of the season as the fall colors are at their most potent and Thanksgiving is in the air.

I have a lot that I’d love to say about the way that autumn makes me feel but so many great writers, poets and thinkers have already spoken so eloquently about the season. So I’ve included some more really amazing quotes about fall. Please don’t be shy about sharing your own thoughts on the glories (or the agonies, even) of autumn:

“Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.  What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?
Hal Borland

“No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.”
John Donne

“Youth is like spring, an over praised season more remarkable for
biting winds than genial breezes.  Autumn is the mellower season,
and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”
Samuel Butler

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Sep 21 2009

We are the Earth

by Amanda L


The DeKalb County Public Library system is participating in the Metro Atlanta Solar System (MASS) project. Chris Dupree, a professor of astronomy and director of the Bradley Observatory at Agnes Scott College, created this project.

The MASS project is a scale model of the solar system. The sun is located at the Bradley Observatory plaza at Agnes Scott. The Decatur Library represents the earth. The project uses the same scale for both the planetary size and their distances from the Sun. The scale of the model is approximately 1:150,000,000. Want to know where the other locations are and more about the project? Check out this link to Agnes Scott’s web page.

Interested in learning more about the solar system?

The library has several books about the solar system. We even have the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Astronomy written by Chris Dupree.

Here are a few more you might want to check out.
Lives of the Planets

Lives of the Planets: A natural history of the solar system by R.M. Corfield

The Planets by Dava Sobel

The Planets by Dava Sobel

Infinite Worlds

Infinite Worlds: an illustrated voyage to planets beyond our sun. by Ray Villard


Sep 18 2009

Neil Gaiman’s Bookshelves

by Jesse M

dcpl-blog-image-neil-gaimanWhatever your taste in books, if you’ve spent much time in a library or bookstore over the past 20 years it’s likely you’ve at least heard of Neil Gaiman. A successful author in a variety of different genres (including science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as graphic novels, books for children, and screenplays for television and film), he has been the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Nebula, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Awards, as well as the 2009 Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book (which also won the Hugo for best book and Locus award for best YA novel). He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and two of his books (Stardust and Coraline) have been adapted into major motion pictures (we carry both adaptations in the DCPL catalog, and they can be located here, and here, respectively).

The website Shelfari (a literary oriented social networking site which allows members to build a virtual bookshelf to display books they’ve read) recently posted an article on Neil Gaiman and his personal library. The idea was, as stated by the author of the piece, “you can learn a lot about someone by seeing what’s on his or her bookshelf…[so] we thought it would be fun to take a look at what’s on the bookshelves of some of our favorite authors.”

Mr. Gaiman’s home library is impressive, both in terms of quantity and quality. A perusal of his bookshelves reveals a man with an eclectic and varied taste, exactly what one would expect from such a talented and wide-ranging author.

If you are interested in learning more about Neil Gaiman, his website offers a wealth of information about his life, work, and current activities. You can also check out his author profile on Shelfari or follow him on Twitter. And for those who have never read anything by him but are looking for a good place to start, allow me to recommend a couple of my favorites:

dcpl-blog-image-sandman-thumbnailThe Sandman graphic novel series is, in a word, brilliant. It has been critically acclaimed, being one of very few comics to ever make it onto the NY Times bestseller list as well as have been selected as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “100 best reads from 1983 to 2008“.  Although DCPL doesn’t carry the entire series, we do carry the first collection of issues I read, entitled The Doll’s House, which is a fine place to start exploring the series, as well as its  follow up installments: Dream Country and Season of Mists.

dcpl-blog-image-american-gods-thumbnailAmerican Gods was awarded the Hugo and Nebula awards (among others) and tells the story of Shadow, an ex-con who learns upon his release from prison that both his wife and best friend died the previous day in a car accident, leaving him with no one to come home to. Offered a job as a bodyguard by a mysterious man named Wednesday, Shadow travels with him around the country, slowly learning of a weird and dangerous world he never knew existed, and the Gods, old and new, that inhabit it.

Check them both out. You won’t be disappointed.

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Sep 16 2009

Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl

by Nancy M

fantastic-foxSeptember is Celebrate Roald Dahl Month (well, according to the Roald Dahl website, at least) as September 13 marked what would have been his 93rd birthday. Dahl is known for his quirky and imaginative books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. A few of his books have been adapted into animated and live action films and love or hate these movie remakes, there is another one on its way.

Fantastic Mr. Fox has been made into a stop-motion animated feature film written and produced by my all-time favorite filmmaker, Wes Anderson of Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums fame. The film enlists an all-star cast and I have to say, it looks pretty great. You can watch the trailer here. Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my favorite Dahl books and it will definitely require a reread before the movie comes out.

By the way, here is an interesting fact that you may or may not know: Roald Dahl wrote the screenplays for both of Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and James Bond You Only Live Twice. You can read more fun facts in the Roald Dahl biography, D is for Dahl: A Gloriumptous A-Z Guide to the World of Roald Dahl.

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Sep 14 2009

Savvy Seniors

by Vivian A

savvysenior_logo1The big S you see on DCPL programming is for Seniors.  Yes, the library has programs geared towards senior patrons (though you don’t have to be a senior to attend).

We offer everything from Healthy Living programs to Senior Movie Times. Here is a sampling:

Here is a list of all our senior programs.


Sep 11 2009

Listen Good

by Lesley B

We usually recommend a book to someone because we like the story or the setting or because it’s funny, etc. The other night a patron recommended an audiobook to me because the reader was really good.  Ed Sala’s reading of James Lee Burke’s White Doves at Morning was so compelling that this gentleman had come to the library to find more. The Library includes the name of audiobook readers in the catalog, making it easy to search for a favorite performer:audiobook-reader-search1

From the catalog page, select Sound/Video. From the first search box, select Audiobook Word(s) from the menu. In the second search box, enter the performer’s name.

AudioFile, a magazine devoted to audiobooks, has a Golden Voices list if you’re interested in finding more recommended readers or you might like one of Stephen King’s 10 favorite audiobooks.  I personally recommend Flo Gibson’s reading of Persuasion by Jane Austen.  On the page, Austen is amusing to me; but read aloud she is truly funny, with a wicked sense of humor and great timing.  Have you got a favorite audiobook reader?


Sep 9 2009

TV in Book Form

by Jnai W

The 2009 Fall television season is starting which probably has little to do with books, the Library and real life in general. But this season I’ve noticed that at least two new programs are based on books ( “Hurrah! Relevancy achieved! Click “Publish”. Good night!”).

I was intrigued to learn that ABC is premiering a new show based on John Updike‘s novel The Witches of Eastwick. Also airing is a new CW show, The Vampire Diaries,  based on books by L. J Smith (even though I probably shouldn’t mention this one  because this book series isn’t in our catalog… sorry). But these shows make me curious about how many other TV shows were born from the pages of a book. I did some searching and discovered that Hollywood has a long tradition of mining literature for small-screen fodder…even nowadays. Books on television–who knew?

There are several shows I’ve considered watching but feel like I’d be at a loss because I’ve missed a few seasons. But perhaps I should try reading the book that the show is based on first. Using the library to bolster my TV viewing habits isn’t really as cheesy as it sounds, is it?

Maybe I could pick up Charlaine Harris‘  Southern Vampire Mysteries novels to see what the deal is with True Blood (I have a friend that I’m not allowed to speak to when this show is on). Or I can read Kathy Reichs‘  Temperance Brennan novels before watching the FOX TV show that’s based on them. But as I continue to read reviews and summaries of these shows I’m reminded that film and television shows are often loosely–very loosely– based on the popular books that they draw from. That said, maybe it’s better to simply enjoy the books separately from the TV shows inspired by them.

Still DCPL holds a wealth of Primetime-related materials, whether you’re reading books in their pre-television adaptation form or if you’re catching up on the continued stories of your fave TV characters long after their shows have aired. DCPL has several books based on two shows I liked: Buffy The Vampire Slayer and the prematurely canceled Sci-Fi series The Dresden Files. That, of course, brings to mind one great advantage that good old-fashioned books have over television–greater latitude and freedom to allow their stories to unfold.

Here are some really fascinating books on television in general. You can read these while you’re waiting for the Game of Thrones television series to commence (yep, the George R.R Martin classic is coming to a small screen near you):

Prime Time, Prime Movers by David Marc and Robert J. Thompson

One Nation Under Television by J. Fred MacDonald

The History of Television, 1880-1941 by Albert Abramson